Smedes, Lewis B. 1921-2002

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SMEDES, Lewis B. 1921-2002

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born August 21, 1921, in MI; died after a fall December 19, 2002, in Arcadia, CA. Minister, educator, and author. Smedes was an evangelical minister and professor who was best known for his teachings and writings on forgiveness. After earning an undergraduate degree from Calvin College in 1947, he completed his M.Div. at Calvin Theological Seminary in 1951 and his Ph.D. at the Free University of Amsterdam; he also took graduate courses at Oxford University and the University of Basel. Smedes' early career consisted of serving as a pastor in the Christian Reformed Church, but most of his career was spent in academia. He was an associate professor of religion at Calvin College from 1957 to 1960 and a professor from 1960 to 1968. He then moved to Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, where he joined the faculty as professor of theology and ethics and was chair of the department from 1990 until his retirement in 1995. Smedes was an open-minded theologian who sometimes departed from his evangelical routes. For example, he was more willing to accept other people's homosexuality rather than to condemn it outright. It was for his teachings about forgiveness, however, that he became most noted. Smedes believed that a person should not wait for someone else to apologize for a sin or other transgression but should forgive them as soon as possible. In this way, one could best get on with his or her life and not become lost in destructive hatred. Smedes wrote about this philosophy in his influential book Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurt We Don't Deserve (1985). He also wrote many other spiritual guides, including Love within Limits: A Realist's View of I Corinthians (1978), Shame and Grace: Healing the Shame We Don't Deserve (1993), and A Life of Distinction: What It Takes to Live with Courage, Honesty, and Gratitude (2002), and was the author of the autobiography My God and I: A Memoir (2003).



Chicago Tribune, December 23, 2002, section 1, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, December 21, 2002, p. B16.

Washington Post, December 23, 2002, p. B5.